It wasn’t pretty and it wasn’t as close as the score indicated. The Dallas Stars lost 3-2 to the Los Angeles Kings Sunday evening at American Airlines Center, but the score doesn’t tell the whole story.
“It was two teams from two different leagues tonight,” said Stars coach Glen Gulutzan. “And they were back-to-back. Thank the lord they weren’t fresh.”
The Kings who played Saturday night in Minnesota and arrived in Dallas 2:30 Sunday morning, didn’t look like a team playing on the second night of a back-to-back. They were all over the Stars all night and only a stellar performance by Dallas goalie Kari Lehtonen, who stopped 37 of 40 shots, kept this one close on the scoreboard.
“What’s most disappointing is the way we came out. It looked like we were the team that played back-to-back and had to travel. There’s no excuse for that,” said Stars defenseman Stephane Robidas. “They come out strong. It’s our building. It’s a game that is there for us. They were supposed to be the tired team and it was the other way around. It’s disappointing.”
They Kings had three shots and one goal in the first 25 seconds of the game, outshot the Stars 31-8 over the first two periods and had a 40-15 shots advantage for the game.
“They kind of took it to us there the whole game,” said Stars center Jamie Benn. “They fed off our turnovers, we couldn’t get the puck deep. Eight shots after two periods is not going to win you hockey games.”
The loss dropped the Stars to 16-15-3 on the season and left them two points out of a playoff spot with 14 games remaining.
“We need to amp up our level. We are fighting for our lives,” said Gulutzan. “If we think with performances like that, we are going to stroll in, we are mistaken.”
The Kings came out with some purpose to start the game. They had three shots on goal in the first 25 seconds and scored on the third one, a Jeff Carter backhand shot from the left faceoff circle that deflected off traffic and by Lehtonen.
“It wasn’t a nice way to start the game,” said Lehtonen, “to go down in the first minute.”
The Kings outshot the Stars 10-4 the rest of the period for a 13-4 shots advantage through the first 20 minutes.
The Stars were outshot 8-0 over the first 13:16 of the second period, but made their first shot of the period count when Jamie Benn slipped by the Kings defense and beat goaltender Jonathan Bernier with a backhand shot to tie the game at 1-1.
The Kings then took control of the game on the scoreboard with two goals 1:09 apart in the third. The first one came off a turnover by Stars forward Tomas Vincour and the end result was a Brad Richardson goal at the 5:40 mark that gave the Kings a 2-1 lead.
“Those blind passes, backhands to the slot kind of hurt you,” Gulutzan said of the Vincour turnover.
A little more than a minute later, Justin Williams scored off the rebound of his own shot to give the Kings a 3-1 lead at the 6:49 mark of the third period.
The Stars were able to pull within a goal when Ray Whitney scored on the power play with 8:56 remaining, but the Stars could never get the equalizer.
The Stars wrap up their current homestand with a game against Anaheim on Monday and then hit the road for two games in Anaheim later in the week (Wednesday and Friday).
“We’ve got a three-game series against Anaheim after an embarrassing outing in front of our home fans like that, we better come out hard tomorrow,” said Gulutzan. “We will come out hard tomorrow if we’ve got any balls.”
*The Stars have given up 40 or more shots in three of the last five games. During that five-game stretch, the Stars are allowing 38.0 shots per game.
*The Stars were 1-2 on the power play in Sunday’s game and are now 6-15 (40.0%) on the PP over the last four games.
*Stars center Vernon Fiddler missed Sunday’s game due to a charley horse. He is not expected to play in Monday night’s game against Anaheim.
*Attendance for Sunday’s game was 15,719.